The approval of Mike Wood MP as the candidate for the new seat of Kingswinford & South Staffordshire has gone down like the proverbial bucket of cold sick, after Greg Hands has been accused of intervening to stitch-up the process. Mike had a clear first stab at the re-jigged constituency, comprised of his own seat and Gavin Williamson’s current home, after Gavin opted for the new Stone, Great Wyrley and Penkridge seat instead. Local Tories weren’t going to let this happen so easily.
The contest to approve Mike’s re-adoption was incredibly close fought and tensions boiled over after one activist was found to have cast their vote despite having an invalid membership. According to one local source, this lead to an “enormous” number of local complaints and they had right to be aggrieved. Due to the close nature of the contest, Guido hears that one vote could have been “meaningful”…
Following these developments, the South Staffordshire Area Chairman wrote to activists, explaining that he had sent a report to CCHQ detailing potential next steps. This was swiftly ignored following “a recommendation” from the Party Chairman and Mike Wood was successfully adopted. Unsurprisingly, local activists, who still hold animosity towards CCHQ after controversy surrounding nearby MP Theo Clarke’s re-selection, aren’t happy. One activist said Greg had to make sure “his cronies got what they wanted” as another involved in the selection lamented that “all I want to see is democracy”. CCHQ invariably tries to tip the scales in favour of incumbents. Nevertheless it all seems a bit heavy handed from Greg.
Co-conspirators can read the full letter from the Staffordshire Area Chairman below:
Dear Member of South Staffordshire Conservative Association,A large number of you have spoken with or written to me over the last 5 weeks regarding the selection of Mike Wood MP as the candidate for the new Kingswinford & South Staffordshire constituency. It is the responsibility of the respective Area Chairmen (Staffordshire and The Black Country in this instance) to perform an investigation into the process, and due to the nature and volume of complaints that I received I have completed this for the South Staffordshire side. I submitted a lengthy report to the Party Board and made various recommendations about how we could move forward.I have received notice that the Party Chairman submitted a recommendation to the Party Board that, despite my findings, the selection process be upheld and the majority of the Board voted in favour. Therefore, Mike Wood MP has been approved as the candidate for the new Kingswinford & South Staffordshire constituency at the next General Election.Following the Boundary changes, your association will be moving into the new constituency boundaries in the middle of September. There will be a Special General Meeting in order to do this. I hope that as many of you as possible will attend that meeting and be involved in the creation of the new association. South Staffordshire Conservatives have an excellent reputation for standing up and being counted – I hope that you will carry this with you into the new Kingswinford & South Staffordshire constituency.It has been a pleasure getting to know many of you over the last 5 weeks. I hope to see as many of you as possible at the SGM in September.Onward.Staffordshire Area Chairman